Both Henry Abbott and John Hollinger have written about Westbrook’s shoot-first mentality, but there's an interesting statistical story brewing that they didn’t capture. Oklahoma City led the NBA in total points scored per assist, with 5.23 points per assist. (It was 8.31 in Game 4.) This measure isn’t talked about much, but it is a reflection of teams that get their points off the dribble and at the foul line, not off a lot of kick-outs to shooters or dishes to big men around the basket.
The Thunder’s high value reflects a more individual and athletic game, something that is fair to say about how the Thunder play over good amounts of time. Not surprisingly, the star-driven system of the Miami Heat came in second in this metric during the regular season. Both teams use their athleticism off the dribble to drive to the middle and get foul calls.
Can you guess who is at the bottom of the list? The Celtics and Dallas Mavericks, two of the oldest teams in the league.
Is there a superstar/home team effect? Sure, there always is, and certainly not just in the NBA (home bias in international ball, and even in a lot of college games, can be absolutely ridiculous). In any series you'll be able to point to bad calls. But Boston, as a team, are NOT good at getting to the line, whereas getting the line is the thing Miami does better than virtually anyone else. Simply saying, "but in this series we attacked a lot TOO" doesn't counteract that--if a team has relied on ball movement and hitting shots all year, they are not suddenly going to become good at the "give it one superathletic dude, have him beat his defender off the dribble and then jump into the help while throwing up a shot and selling the foul" style of play.
Its not a conspiracy. It has nothing to do with Miami specifically, or even LBJ and Wade specifically. If Miami were the storied veterans who play good team ball and try to manufacture good looks, and Boston was the team with a lot of hyperathletic wings who do nothing but run isos and pick and rolls and fling themselves into the defense while looking like they got shot, Boston would have the free throw disparity in their favor instead.